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Why is Windows 11 update so slow?

Windows 11 is the latest operating system from Microsoft that was released in October 2021. While it brings new features and improvements over Windows 10, one common complaint from users is that Windows 11 updates are often very slow to install.

What’s causing the slow Windows 11 updates?

There are a few potential factors that can make Windows 11 updates slower than they should be:

Size of the updates

Windows 11 updates are generally quite large, often over 1 GB in size for feature updates. Compared to the incremental updates for Windows 10, which were typically under 500 MB, Windows 11’s massive updates take longer to download and install.

System requirements

The system requirements for Windows 11 are higher than those for Windows 10. Many PCs need to install new drivers and firmware just to support Windows 11. This extra work during updates can significantly slow things down.

Compatibility holds

Before installing updates, Windows 11 checks for compatibility issues with your hardware and software. Any detected issues cause the update to be blocked until they are resolved, adding delays to the process.

Background updates

Windows 11 updates are installed in the background automatically. They use your internet bandwidth and system resources even while you are using your PC for other tasks, which can make updates feel slow.

User Account Control prompts

Windows needs admin access to install updates. The frequent User Account Control (UAC) prompts during updates interrupt the process and have to be manually approved.

How long do Windows 11 updates take?

The exact time it takes to install a Windows 11 update can vary considerably based on your hardware and internet connection speed. However, here are some average Windows 11 update installation times:

Update Type Average Install Time
Cumulative monthly updates 10 – 30 minutes
Feature updates (twice per year) 1 – 3 hours
Major version upgrades (every 2-3 years) 3 – 5 hours

As you can see, larger updates like feature updates and version upgrades can tie up your PC for hours at a time. Monthly cumulative updates also interrupt your workflow for up to half an hour.

Tips to speed up Windows 11 updates

Here are some tips to help speed up Windows 11 updates and reduce the frustration of slow install times:

Pause updates

You can pause updates for up to 35 days in Windows Update settings. Use this when you need your PC for important work to avoid disruptions.

Disconnect other devices

Updates will go faster if other devices on your network are not using the internet bandwidth during the Windows update. Disconnect other devices or pause large downloads.

Update drivers

Make sure all your device drivers are up to date before installing major Windows 11 updates. Updated drivers can help optimize update installation times.

Disable background apps

Background apps take up system resources that could otherwise be used to speed up the update process. Temporarily disabling them can help.

Use Active Hours

Windows won’t update during your set Active Hours. Make sure Active Hours cover your peak usage time to avoid slowdowns.

Clean up your C drive

Having at least 50 GB of free space on your main system drive can help Windows update quicker by ensuring temporary install files have space.

Perform disk checks

Run disk checks and optimizations to fix any drive errors before updating. A healthy drive will help updates go smoothly.

Use wired internet

Connect your PC via Ethernet instead of WiFi for faster and more reliable internet speeds during updates. This can significantly speed up downloads.

Restart your PC first

Restarting your PC before installing an update clears out memory, ends background processes, and prepares your system for optimal update installation speeds.

Conclusion

Slow Windows 11 updates can be frustrating, but are often unavoidable due to the large update sizes and background installation process. Following the tips above can help optimize Windows 11 update speeds by freeing up system resources, ensuring hardware is update-ready, and avoiding interruptions. However, expect occasional multi-hour waits when installing major Windows 11 updates so you aren’t taken by surprise. Plan ahead to schedule updates for downtime periods where possible.